David Wayne McMurtrie was farewelled at a tangi yesterday, the fifth forestry worker to be killed by a falling tree this year.

The 49-year-old grandfather was working in the Houpoto Forest in the Bay of Plenty when a tree he was felling toppled awkwardly and landed on him.

The Department of Labour is investigating the accident. It launched a campaign last year to reduce the number of workers killed and seriously injured in the industry.

Last year 183 workers were seriously injured while working in forestry, and three people died. The five so far this year is well above the annual average.


The department's central division manager, Ona De Rooy, said the department was working with the forestry industry to enforce safe practices.

It was the second of five plans the department launched as part of the National Action Agenda, which aimed to reduce the death toll in key industries, such as construction, forestry, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing.

De Rooy said it was unacceptable for anyone to die in a New Zealand workplace. "We want everyone to go home safely to their families and we want a clear understanding of the risks and the safe practices."

McMurtrie was farewelled at Kutarere Marae yesterday.